Community Pharmacies Rise During Covid-and Renovated for the Good
With 19 locations throughout the Milwaukee area, Hayat Pharmacy focuses on providing quality health care to the unaccompanied. For Hashim Zaibak, pharmacist and owner, quality health care is not about delivering medicines; it’s about removing barriers that influence the health of his community. Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in Hayat, an Arabic word meaning “life,” visit patients in their homes, and the same team speaks 20 different languages and dialects. During these visits, which Zaibak calls “Medication Therapy Management,” or MTM, pharmacists educate patients about their medical condition, provide alternative approaches for health management, administer antipsychotic medications, and ensure that patients take medications as prescribed.
It’s a more inclusive version of care than you might expect from a community pharmacy, a category that spans everything from chains like CVS and Walgreens to grocery stores like Kroger to many merchandisers like Walmart to independent small street business owners. But while the view of pharmacies as a commodity-and pharmacists as shufflers of pills from large bottle to small bottle-over the decades has remained largely unchanged, the record- looks have changed in recent years, especially with Covid-19.
Community pharmacists now administer vaccines, manage chronic disease, provide birth control, optimize medication regimens, and in some cases check genetic markers for self-medication, which just name a few services. In fact, the availability of offerings varies from state to state, and among the varieties at community pharmacies. Professionally, community pharmacies have spent decades advocating for improved services, often through legislative initiatives for pharmacists to be recognized, legally, as health care providers, as well as for paper to the pharmacy technician.
The pandovia of Covid-19 and subsequent federal actions, such as the PREP Act, shifted the switch for pharmacy practice in the legislature. Practical evenings, pharmacy technicians, under the supervision of a qualified pharmacist and with appropriate training, were given permission to administer pediatric vaccines and Covid-19 vaccines for any eligible patient in age 3 in October 2020. The PREP Act continues to change practice; a revision in August 2021 that expanded the permit for pharmacy technicians to administer the flu vaccine to any patient regardless of age, similar to the Covid-19 vaccines. Lawmakers see community pharmacies as a way to fill increasing health care gaps. The pandemic has shut down many health care systems and opened doors for pharmacies to enter.
Hayat Pharmacy is one of many providers that have used the extended authorization to better serve their communities. In May 2020, it implemented a new clinical service: testing services-specific Covid-19 screenings. Zaibak personally conducts screenings to show staff and patients the importance of this work. In the first interview for this piece, Zaibak was pulled in to deal with trial patients, now for the Delta variety.
When the vaccine became available, Hayat Pharmacy went up. It has an electronic sign-up system, but the communities Hayat serves have limited technology adoption, so most of the early vaccinations go to eligible patients on foot. Hayat Pharmacy emphasizes caring for the elderly, sick, and underserved, and it provides more than 50,000 vaccinations to Milwaukee residents. Once vaccines were approved in the youth, the first dose given by the pharmacy was given by Zaibak to his son.
Just as the role of the community pharmacy is changing, so is the financial model. The release of medicines has mainly led to the disappearance of pharmacies; in some states, the responsibility for dispensing medications is shifted to pharmacy technicians, even under the direct supervision and oversight of a pharmacist. Community pharmacists are arguably over -trained in delivering only medicines; the entry level degree is a doctorate. Automation and technology help patients get medication, while pharmacists like Zaibak are well positioned to make sure patients know what to do with it.
Optimizing medications-ensuring the delivery of the appropriate dose, monitoring for side effects of medication to minimize harm, and recommending specific therapy-is how the pharmacist can improve the quality and care of patients. It can also lead to indirect savings for health care spending. Costs resulting from illness and death associated with unoptimized drug therapy totaled an estimated $ 528.4 billion in the U.S. in 2016. Prolonged admissions, hospitalization, and other adverse consequences with in relation to incorrect dosing, care gaps, and so on. more costly than the drugs prescribed themselves. Payment of how to use the drug, as the Zaibak group did during the home visit, may be more costly than paying for the drug itself, and it creates a different financial model outside of the distribution of drugs.